On the road again: Secretary Wayne Williams swings through Colorado

Board of Education member Joyce Rankin from the 3rd Congressional District and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams have some fun Friday night posing in front of Lockheed Martin's photo screen at Club 20's steak fry in Grand Junction. (Joe Rice, Lockheed Martin)
Board of Education member Joyce Rankin from the 3rd Congressional District and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams have some fun Friday night posing in front of Lockheed Martin’s photo screen at Club 20’s steak fry in Grand Junction. (Joe Rice, Lockheed Martin)

Friday was a long day for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who attended a court hearing in  Denver in the morning, met with two county clerks on the Western Slope in the afternoon and then attended Club 20’s steak fry at its fall meeting in Grand Junction that night.

Next week Williams heads to the San Luis Valley for the southern region’s county clerks fall conference in Alamosa. On Thursday he was in Limon for the fall conference of the eastern region’s county clerks.

Williams, who took office in January, has been traveling the state meeting with clerks, including some who were elected last year and who will be conducting their first election on Nov. 3. He said it’s one of the best parts of his job.

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Former House colleagues praise Bill Berens; funeral services set for Saturday

Broomfield Mayor Bill Berens poses for a photo in the city council chambers. (The Denver Post)
Broomfield Mayor Bill Berens poses for a photo in the city council chambers. (The Denver Post)

The men and women who served with Republican Bill Berens in the state House on Friday praised the lawmaker for his devotion to the city of Broomfield and daring to speak his mind to make Colorado a better place.

“Bill Berens was a dapper, friendly soul,” said Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, who was chairwoman of the House Local Government Committee when Berens was a member.

“I recall that many of his contributions to our discussions began with ‘When I was mayor of Broomfield, we … ,’  or ‘In Broomfield, we ….’ He was very proud of his city and the role he had played in its progress,” she said.  “I’ll miss him at United Power legislative lunches where we would reminisce about ‘the good old days.’ May he rest in peace.”

Berens died Monday at the age of 66 after battling cancer for seven months. His funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the Nativity of  Our Lord Catholic Church in Broomfield.

The Broomfield Enterprise and The Denver Post chronicled the life of Berens, a civil engineer who served four terms as Broomfield mayor and one term in the House before being swept out of office in the Democratic tidal wave of 2006.

“Rep. Berens and I opposed one another in two House races,” said Rep. Dianne Primavera, a Democrat. “He defeated me in 2004. I defeated him in 2006. Despite being competitors, he and I respected one another and had a cordial relationship.  He even offered several times to teach me to play golf! Ironically, my story has been one of a cancer survivor. Sadly, he had a different outcome with his illness. I’m still in shock at his passing.”

Happy 100th anniversary Rocky Mountain National Park

Russ and Lynn Waring, wearing period costumes, flank Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham at the 100th anniversary celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park. The event was Sept. 4 although the camera says Sept. 5. (Waring photo)
Russ and Lynn Waring, wearing period costumes, flank Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham at the 100th anniversary celebration of Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 4. (Waring photo)

When you spend your days off at your second home in Estes Park, the 100th anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park feels like a family affair, so much so that Lynn Waring and her husband Russ dressed in period costumes for the big party.

Lynn works for the Colorado Secretary of State Office’s business and licensing division and she took off on Sept. 4 to attend the anniversary celebration at Glacier Basin Campground. (The camera date is wrong.)

“Oh, it was beautiful,” she said. “There were about 1,000 people and they had cake and lemonade. It was so well organized that they didn’t have long lines.”

The Arvada resident it was exciting when the “bigwigs” showed up, including Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Lynn’s husband is 6 foot 4 so he was able to raise his camera and get some good shots with her and the bigwigs.

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Mike McPhee and Dana Crawford: Chronicling the woman who saved “the soul of a city”

Dana Crawford with retired journalist Mike McPhee, who wrote a book on the visionary and preservationist, at their book signing Tuesday at Union Station. (Lynn Bartels)
Dana Crawford with retired journalist Mike McPhee, who wrote a book on the visionary and preservationist, at their book signing Tuesday at Union Station. (Lynn Bartels)

When I moved to Denver in the summer of 1993 to work as the night cops reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, my editors occasionally dispatched me to an abandoned flour mill where hobos had started yet another fire.

I already found the streets around downtown confusing and the poor Denver Fire Department would take my calls and try to guide me to the location in the dark, where I would finally arrive only to find that police had already shooed away the transients.

You can imagine my shock in 1997 when preservationist Dana Crawford announced she was turning the flour mill into condominiums.

I wasn’t the only one who thought the idea was “just shy of insane,” as author Mike McPhee says in his new book, “Dana Crawford:  50 Years Saving the Soul of a City.”

“In the late 1960s, it was shut down, emptied of most of its heavy steel machinery and left to the pigeons, the homeless and the graffiti artists,” he wrote of the mill. “Dana’s close friend and colleague, Jeff Shoemaker of the Greenway Foundation, attended the press conference announcing the project and fell into disbelief.

“This is completely non-salvageable. No one will live down here. I’ll buy the dynamite  and I’ll push the plunger,” he told her.

The condominiums were a huge success.

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Busy times at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office

Gov. Bill Owens and his El Paso County campaign chairman during Owens' 2002 re-election bid. Owens went on to win in a landslide and Williams won his first term as county commissioner. Williams now is Colorado secretary of state. (Williams photo)
Gov. Bill Owens and his El Paso County campaign chairman, Wayne Williams, during Owens’ 2002 re-election bid. Owens went on to win in a landslide and Williams was elected to his first term as county commissioner. Williams now is Colorado secretary of state. (Williams photo)

When I left journalism to become the spokeswoman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, people said I’d be bored, that I’d pack it in within a few weeks.

Bored? Hardly. This is no sleepy state agency. Thing are happening at the Secretary of State’s Office — and not just because an election activist or two or three might need another hobby.

But I do miss writing for The Spot, The Denver Post’s award-winning political blog. As Kathy Green, the spunky spokeswoman for Gov. John Hickenlooper, likes to say, “If Lynn Bartels doesn’t blog about it, did it really happen?”

Over the years, first for the Rocky Mountain News and then for the Post, I chronicled the engagements, weddings and births — and not always in that order! — of a variety of people involved in Colorado politics. Sandwiched between news about party chairmanship problems or a wild U.S. Senate race or legislative hearings on gun-control measures, these blog items helped make politicians what they are: human.

George Merritt, the spokesman for Hickenlooper’s first gubernatorial run in 2010, celebrated the birth of twin daughters in 2012.

“Political consultant George Merritt  hasn’t been this happy since Dan Maes won the GOP gubernatorial primary,” I wrote in The Spot.

Rep. Jon Keyser, his wife Emma, and their new baby, Jack. (Keyser photo)
Rep. Jon Keyser, his wife Emma, and their new baby, Jack. (Keyser photo)

So I’m ecstatic that my new boss, Secretary of State Wayne Williams, has encouraged me to write a blog — and let me lift a picture from his office to run with my first piece. I laughed when one of  our tech guys asked who was in the picture with former Gov. Bill Owens.

The first baby to make the new blog:  Jonathan “Jack” Wyatt Keyser, the second child of Rep. Jon Keyser, R-Morrison, and his wife, Emma. Jack, who arrived Thursday morning, is the latest in a wave of Capitol babies. He joins a  sister,  Elleanor, who is 2.

Some days on the blog I might take a deeper look at what is going on at the office, an innovative program underway or another award the staff racked up. Just this week, the good folks who raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital praised our operation, saying Colorado has the best charitable registration system in the country.

Other days, well, stay tuned.